Cuomo signs bill to keep NY part of the National Popular Vote compact indefinitely
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday signed legislation that secures New York’s place on the list of states that have joined National Popular Vote compact.
By signing this legislation, the governor seeks to guarantee that every vote in every state will matter in every presidential election.
The bill (S.5478/A.6044) modifies legislation signed by Gov. Cuomo in 2014 that added New York to an interstate agreement in which member states commit to award their electoral votes for president to the candidate who receives a majority of the national popular vote.
The original legislation required that New York be removed from the compact at the end of 2018 if the agreement had not been adopted nationally. The bill signed Monday removes this expiration date and keeps New York on the list of states supporting the National Popular Vote indefinitely.
“This action will help ensure every vote is treated equally and places New York at the forefront of the battle for fairer elections and strengthen our democracy,” Cuomo said. “Making the national popular vote a binding one will enable all voices to be heard and encourage candidates to appeal to voters in all states.”
By signing on to the National Popular Vote Compact, New York pledges to award its 29 electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, but only to take effect once enough other states have passed identical legislation to comprise a majority of the Electoral Colleges 538 votes.
The compact currently contains 165 of the necessary 270 electoral votes, 61 percent of the votes.
A federal constitutional amendment is not required to make the change, as Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution provides states the power to award electoral votes in any manner they choose.
Currently, like 47 other states, New York uses the winner-take-all method in which the winner of the popular vote in New York state receives all of its electors. This method was used by only three states in 1789.
Under the current winner-take-all system, presidential candidates often ignore reliably Republican and Democrat states, like New York, and focus all of their attention and resources on a select group of battleground states.
Therefore, candidates have no reason to focus on the many issues that matter to millions of New Yorkers. The current system artificially divides the country into red, blue and swing states.
New York is a victim of this system. Despite ranking fourth in the country, with more than 13 million eligible voters, New York ranks dead last in presidential campaign spending.
“As Election Day finally arrives, every New Yorker wants to know their vote for president will matter in deciding the future of our country,” said Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, the prime sponsor in the Senate. “The amendment signed by the governor … will now give more states enough time to join this interstate agreement. A national popular vote compact will make New York relevant, so that we can’t be ignored or taken for granted as the candidates instead fight over the few winner-take-all battleground states that historically have decided who is elected president.
“In the 21st century, every vote really should count, and this legislation will help achieve that democratic ideal in a way that respects the Constitution.”
The compact has now been enacted through legislation in 10 states: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, as well as Washington D.C.
“Only in the world’s greatest democracy, the person who receives the most votes for president is not necessarily the winner. [A] national popular vote would change that, and it would mean that every American’s vote in every state would count equally,” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, D-Bronx, the sponsor of the Assembly bill. “Currently, New York is a bystander in presidential elections, where candidates spend most of the time in battleground states.
“It’s time that New York issues count — that New Yorkers count.”